Thanksgiving Soy Curls and Gravy

A couple of weeks ago I won a package of Butler soy curls from Somer over at Vedged Out.  I love soy curls.  They are versatile and cooperative to work with.  This time I needed them to step up in a big way.  Let me explain….

Yesterday I made the weekly trek to the health food store.  On my list was our Thanksgiving entree.  We’re reading labels more carefully these days than ever before due to increased allergies.  (Hubby and I really should avoid wheat and my sil cannot get a hold of anything from the cruciferous family or the sunflower/safflower seed/oil family.)  It was time to really check out every single ingredient in the roll we buy once a year.  Now, mind you, this single time out of the year we have been known to wink at some egg whites for this particular tradition.  (GASP!)  However, not only did our traditional long-looked-forward-to entree have eggs in it, but now it had non-fat milk, too.  Oh, and did I mention that vital wheat gluten plays a major roll in its creation, as well?  *sigh and ugh*  I called hubby to get his opinion on what to do.  This was, after all, just about his only tradition that matters to him (that and frosted sugar cookies at Christmas) and he has not wanted to give it up in the past.  He told me, “Hon, I trust your creative powers to whip up something great to replace it, either with soy curls, or something else.  We can try it out this week and if we really aren’t excited by it, then we’ll visit the possibility of buying the roll of fake stuff.”

How can a girl not take up such an encouraging challenge?  🙂  I bought some portabella mushrooms and headed for home.

The jury was divided on this dish.  Out of 5 of us, 2 loved it, 2 thought it was okay, and 1 said that with extra salt it was pretty good (this from the guy who salts everything before he tastes even it.)  One of the guys asked if I could do half this way and half BBQ!  lol

I think when I make this on Thanksgiving, I will tweak it a little bit more.  I am going to add an extra tablespoon of chicken-style seasoning into the soy curls (already included below), and toss in a little bit of minced garlic.  Perhaps one of your favorite dried herbs could make an appearance in it, if you wish.  If you experiment, please let me know what you do.

Thanksgiving Soy Curls

  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want it to be
  • 4+ T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

In a very large frying pan or a Dutch oven, combine water, Bragg’s, and seasonings and heat on high.  Add soy curls and toss.  When it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and continue turning the soy curls over and over until all of the water is absorbed.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.  In the same frying pan, saute the mushrooms and onions in the olive oil until softened.  Transfer the soy curls back to the frying pan and mix everything together.  Continue heating everything until the soy curls are toasty warm again.  Serve with gravy.

~~~~~~~

This gravy recipe is mildly adapted from a cookbook called Vegetarian For Life (although I believe all the recipes in it are actually vegan.)

“Chicken” Gravy

  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. brown rice or barley flour (I recommend the barley flour if you are not gluten intolerant.  In a pinch, you could use whole wheat, but the flavor pales in comparison.)
  • 3 T. chicken-like seasoning
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 4 c. water

In a 2-quart saucepan, mix the oil with the flour and chicken seasoning.  Stir in the Bragg’s.  Gradually stir in the first 2 cups of water until it is smooth and getting thin; then add all of the last 2 cups.  Heat, stirring often, and finally stirring constantly as it begins to thicken.  When it boils, turn the heat down and simmer to desired thickness.

This can be made a day ahead ~ just be aware that it will thicken upon standing, so you won’t want to simmer it very long.  It will thicken some as you reheat it.

Beefy Vegan Soup

After all the fun of the Virtual Vegan Potluck I was inspired to create something new the very next day.  I wanted to make a soup to feed my family (plus a potential 1-2 others), but none of my regular recipes were resounding with my mental tastebuds.  What did sound good was some kind of beefy stew.  I peeked into my cupboards and fridge to see if I had the supplies to pull something like this off.  Next I recruited my son, J, to help me.  (Not only is he good with ideas, but he peels a mean carrot or potato!  lol)  Here is what we came up with ~ a good solid “beef” soup!

This makes an 8-quart stock-pot just about full.

Beefy Vegan Soup

  • 3 c. sliced/diced carrots
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced celery
  • 3 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 5 c. diced potato
  • 6 c. chopped cabbage
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 10 c. water
  • 1/2 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 T. Marmite or Vegex
  • 3 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. Spike
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a touch of sweetener – maybe 1-3 tsp. (believe it or not, this makes a difference)
  • 4 c. Soy Curls, roughly broken/crushed into 1-2″ pieces

Place everything except the soy curls into a large 8-quart stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer 30 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender.  (I like to get the potatoes to the point they will almost melt in your mouth.  Then they remind me of my mother’s crock-pot roast, potatoes, and carrots that she used to make when I was a kid and still eating meat.)  Toss in the Soy Curls and stir thoroughly.  Remove from heat.

Serve this as soon as it’s not so hot it will burn your mouth.  Better yet, let it sit off the heat for an hour or so and warm it back up.  Soups always taste better if they can sit for a while and be reheated so that the flavors meld well.  I love leftovers the next day ~ they’re always better!  🙂

Substitution Soup (aka: Eggplant-Cabbage Soup)

This is a bit earlier in the year than I usually make soup ~ but with cooler evenings arriving earlier than normal, I couldn’t resist.  Last week I found a very large organic eggplant at Kroger.  I’d never seen one there before, so I quickly pounced on it!  Since I needed to use it before it went the way of other science experiments in the back of my frig, this influenced my decision to make this particular soup.

My dear high school friend who taught me about this soup has a different name for it than I use.  She calls it garbage pail soup, because you can throw in just about anything you want and it’s likely to taste good.  Use up the veggies that just can’t wait much longer.  Throw in whatever meat-like substitutes you like.  Just start with the base of the soup and have fun.

I do wish the greens would stay brighter for visuals with this soup, but my family doesn’t like the texture of them wilted at the last minute of cooking time, so I have to put up with duller-looking greens.  The good thing?  It still tastes amazing!  (I ate 2 large bowls of it.)

There is one thing you should know.  This makes a HUGE pot of soup that will last you for more than one meal.  You can freeze some of it.  You can add something new each night to it to make it slightly different.  Or you can invite a crowd over for supper.  🙂

Substitution Soup

Absolutely necessary:

  • 12-16+ c. filtered or well water (depending on the size of your cabbage and other veggie amounts)  Good water is important to the taste of your soup
  • 1 small-to-medium cabbage, diced or sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 large onions (more if you like)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T. basil (more if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (add the smaller amount and taste test later)
  • 6-8 T. chicken-style seasoning     (ditto)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. +/- sweetener (depending on how acidic your canned tomatoes are), optional

Variables:

  • herbs and seasonings of choice (including Spike*, or Mrs. Dash)
  • 3-6 c. diced or shredded potatoes* (or use small cauliflower florets or corn)
  • 1-2 lbs. green vegetables ~ may be frozen (chopped leafy greens such as spinach*, kale, turnip greens*, etc., zucchini – diced or shredded, green beans, chopped broccoli, etc.
  • 1/2-1 c. dried lentils* (or add canned beans at the end of cooking time)
  • 1/2-1 1/2 c. brown rice*, millet, barley (increase cooking time), or other whole grain
  • veggie meat of your choice ~ use more than one kind for added interest ~ chorizo* (for a spicy version), TVP, seitan, homemade or canned gluten pieces, broken soy curls*, soy hot dogs or links, Gimme Lean, chopped up soy burgers, Tofurkey “sausages,” etc.

Throw everything from the “absolutely necessary” list into a large stock pot.  Bring this to a boil while you chop everything else, adding as you go.  The cabbage will decrease in size as it cooks, so you may not need as much water as you think you might.  You may always add more later, as well as more seasonings to balance the extra water.  When the lentils, rice, and potatoes are cooked, taste the soup and see if it needs something, like more salt, or some other kind of seasoning.  Adjust it as needed.  Let the soup cool to serving temperature as a large stockpot of soup can be seriously hot.  Pair it with some marvelous bread and enjoy!

*my choices for the soup pictured

Chicky Strips

I can tell it’s summer.  Not only am I not doing as much cooking and creating of new recipes, but I’m not spending as much time on the computer, either.  I want outside!  I want to go swimming!  I want to play hookey from all my tasks!  (Think Spring fever, only worse.)  So, if you don’t see quite as many posts as in the past, you’ll know it’s because I am off having fun instead.  😀  Actually, this post might not have made it today if my swimming plans hadn’t fallen through.

Last night I wanted a simple supper.  I made a huge salad with lots of add-ins.  One of the add-ins needed to be something hearty to make the salad a meal for the guys.  I chose to make these Chicky Strips.  Now ordinarily these end up hot on top of a stir-fry dish, but if cooled a bit they make a marvelous, chewy, salty “chicken” for a salad!  (Although I did see hubby just eating them plain…and other family members ~ who shall remain nameless ~ snitch them from the frying pan while they cook.)

This recipe is similar to my Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces, but it takes things a step further to obtain a new texture and purpose.  It also increases the amount made, because they tend to disappear fast!  I just love the variations available with soy curls!  For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

This may look like a lot of food in the frying pan, but as they brown, they begin to cook down into a smaller amount.

Chicky Strips

  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want the finished product
  • 3+ T. chicken-style seasoning, again depending on the saltiness you wish to obtain

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium-high heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Continue cooking, not stirring the curls as often to allow them to brown.  Cook until most of the soy curls are toasty browned in places.  They won’t get completely browned unless you decrease the recipe significantly so that they can be spread out thinner on the pan.  If they get too browned, they become tough.

Serve hot with stir fry, or serve cool/cold on salads.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Glitches in the system ~ or most probably in the system user ~ today.  So sorry.  I had posted this and then it got linked to another recipe that I haven’t posted yet.  I will try it again.  Hopefully, it works this time.  🙂

For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  When the broth is completely absorbed, spread out on a dinner plate and chill (5-10 minutes in the freezer or more in the refrigerator.)  When cold, you can add them to salads such as this.

Macaroni Salad

Some dishes become staples in the family and are prepared for years without a true “recipe” being written.  Then something throws a monkey wrench into the situation, and your standard fare has to be rearranged ~ or something substituted.

That happened with this recipe last year.  A friend came to visit and we went to the very large local health food store together.  She was nearly vegan, but my family is totally vegan.  I reached for a roll of Worthington’s Chickette Roll that I had used for years in this salad and other things.  She informed me that the recipe had been changed a year or two before and it was no longer vegan!!  *GASP!*  Say it isn’t so!!  *groan*  Back to the drawing board to find a “chicken” replacement.  (When will I remember to frequently re-read nutritional labels?  And why do companies “fix” something that wasn’t broken?)

The newest challenge for my family is to find a pasta that is gluten-free that we like.  I used a corn-quinoa type the time before last and it was good.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we had a brown rice one the last time…not so good.  It was a little slimey feeling.  I didn’t mind it, but the family gave it a thumbs-down.  So, I went back to the corn-quinoa, this time in elbows.  I read the package again and noticed it said not to overcook the pasta ~ in big bold letters.  So I was scrupulously careful.  I didn’t want mush.  Oh…we didn’t get mush.  No, no.  We got just short of crispy!!  Somehow, between testing it while it was cooking in the pot and rinsing it in cold water, the pasta went from al dente to ewwwww.

My husband, who loves this dish and would eat it several times a week, decided it was worth it to eat it.  Some of the others decided to forego the “pleasure.”  I ate some, but I had a terrible stomach ache several hours later.  Moral of the story?  Don’t believe everything you read…even on food packages.  Cook your pasta well enough.

Macaroni Salad

  • 1 lb. pasta (elbows, shells, or rotini twists work well), may be gluten-free
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, diced*
  • 1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced*
  • 1 can black olives, sliced or quartered
  • 1/4-1/2 c. minced onion
  • “chicken” style veggie meat substitute (I use this.)
  • Veganaise, to taste
  • salt to taste

Please note – pasta doesn’t seem to come in 1 lb. boxes any more.  If you buy 2 boxes and fill the 13+ oz. one to near the top, it approximates 1 lb.

Cook pasta according to package directions, or until softer than al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain.

Place the vegetables in a very large bowl.  Salt them and toss together.  Add the drained pasta and veggie meat.  Mix in Veganaise to taste.

Chill and serve.

*Feel free to use more ~ I often do.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Life has been kind of nuts lately.  (I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my attention has been more about a brand new granddaughter ~ and shopping for cute baby things ~ than this blog.)  When that happens, I need food that everybody thinks is special, but that takes very little hands-on time for me to prepare.  Since to most of my family sandwiches aren’t supper food, it takes a nice filling of some type to convince them that they can be!  (And now that I’ve found an acceptable form of gluten-free bread, each of my crew can have them again.)

This is based on a Step-Fast recipe, but it has been drastically altered.  In the original, the soy curls are soaked in salted water (enough to cover) for an hour and then squeezed out.  Then they are tossed with chicken-style seasoning and other items such a vegan mayo.  They were rather bland on the inside of the curls, though.  I find it works much better to use only the amount of water you absolutely need and that the water should be seasoned so that as the curls hydrate, they become flavorful in their own right.  Then whatever you dress them with only adds to the flavor, rather than being the only flavor.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Break up the soy curls a bit if there are any really long pieces.  Add the soy curls, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Test a curl for tenderness.  If not soft enough, add a little more water at a time until you get the best texture.  You do not want excess liquid, or your sandwich filling will be soggy, but neither do you want tough soy curls.  If there is a question, I would opt for slightly chewier curls and allow the Veganaise to help with the softening during the refrigerator time.  You can also squeeze out any excess liquid if a serious goof occurs.

Place curls in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.  [If you are in a dreadful hurry to get supper on the table, get out a cookie sheet, and spread the hot curls on it and place in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you have the extra space, but check them often ~ the first time in about 15 minutes) until chilled.]

In a large bowl, mix the soy curls with the onion, relish, and Veganaise.  If possible, chill for an hour or more to meld the flavors.  Serve on bread or rolls as sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, or on a bed of lettuce and cold rice as a “chicken” salad style dish.

Serves 6-8.

 

BBQ Soy Curls

Soy Curls are vegan fast food!  They are made by Butler Foods (http://www.butlerfoods.com) and can be directly ordered, or located at a health food store near you.  Somehow these folks have figured out how to texturize soy beans and make them a “reconstitutible” veggie meat.  The picture (left) shows a few dry ones.  And why do I start with this recipe?  Because they are super fast?  Well, no….it’s because I made these recently and had the foresight to take pictures!

BBQ Soy Curls

  • 2 c. water
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp. Marmite or Vegex paste
  • 1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 6 c. Soy Curls
  • Thick BBQ sauce (the amount depends on whether you want them to swim, or be barely coated ~ I used a little more than an 18-oz jar)
  • a little water to rinse out BBQ sauce jar

Heat first 3 ingredients in a large frying pan until Marmite is dissolved.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  When the Soy Curls are mostly rehydrated and there is a little water left in the bottom of the pan, add the BBQ sauce and extra water.  Heat through and serve; or put in a large pan with foil to cover and reheat the next day in the oven – for about 30 minutes at 350°.

These are marvelous with mashed or roasted potatoes, or potato salad.

Note:  Store any unused Soy Curls in an airtight container in the freezer if you want them to stay fresh and last a long time.  I buy them in a 12-lb. box which doesn’t sound like it should be that big…but it is!  They don’t weigh much until they are rehydrated.